God’s Renewing Word of Peace and Justice
Leviticus 25:1-22: Moses receives instructions for a “sabbatical” year that is to be dedicated to the LORD. He also receives instructions for observing the Year of Restoration, the fiftieth year, which occurs at the end of seven 7-year cycles, a time when property is to be restored to the original owners.
The Seventh Year
25 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and commanded him 2 to give the following regulations to the people of Israel. When you enter the land that the Lord is giving you, you shall honor the Lord by not cultivating the land every seventh year. 3 You shall plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and gather your crops for six years. 4 But the seventh year is to be a year of complete rest for the land, a year dedicated to the Lord. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not even harvest the grain that grows by itself without being planted, and do not gather the grapes from your unpruned vines; it is a year of complete rest for the land. 6 Although the land has not been cultivated during that year, it will provide food for you, your slaves, your hired men, the foreigners living with you, 7 your domestic animals, and the wild animals in your fields. Everything that it produces may be eaten.
The Year of Restoration
8 Count seven times seven years, a total of forty-nine years. 9 Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement, send someone to blow a trumpet throughout the whole land. 10 In this way you shall set the fiftieth year apart and proclaim freedom to all the inhabitants of the land. During this year all property that has been sold shall be restored to the original owner or the descendants, and any who have been sold as slaves shall return to their families. 11 You shall not plant your fields or harvest the grain that grows by itself or gather the grapes in your unpruned vineyards. 12 The whole year shall be sacred for you; you shall eat only what the fields produce of themselves.
13 In this year all property that has been sold shall be restored to its original owner. 14 So when you sell land to an Israelite or buy land, do not deal unfairly. 15 The price is to be set according to the number of years the land can produce crops before the next Year of Restoration. 16 If there are many years, the price shall be higher, but if there are only a few years, the price shall be lower, because what is being sold is the number of crops the land can produce. 17 Do not cheat an Israelite, but obey the Lord your God.
The Problem of the Seventh Year
18 Obey all the Lord’s laws and commands, so that you may live in safety in the land. 19 The land will produce its crops, and you will have all you want to eat and will live in safety.
20 But someone may ask what there will be to eat during the seventh year, when no fields are planted and no crops gathered. 21 The Lord will bless the land in the sixth year so that it will produce enough food for two years. 22 When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating what you harvested during the sixth year, and you will have enough to eat until the crops you plant that year are harvested.
Today’s Key Verse: Leviticus 25:2b
When you enter the land that the LORD is giving you, you shall honor the LORD by not cultivating the land every seventh year.
The year of rest (seventh year) was intended to help the soil regain some of the nutrients lost in the previous growing season. Is it important to follow this practice today? What does the LORD promise (verses 18-22)? Envision what life would be like today if all nations observed the Year of Restoration (also known as a Jubilee year). What would be the benefits? Are there obstacles that prevent this from taking place?
Creator God, teach me to be a good steward of the earth. The whole earth belongs to you, and I praise you for your wondrous creation. Amen.
Leviticus 25:23-38: Instructions are given for the restoration of land and property and offering loans to the poor.